UK approved $800M in arms sales to Saudis after Khashoggi murder

Published 24.07.2019 00:12

The British government approved the sale of military equipment worth $800 million to Saudi Arabia in the six months following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to U.K.-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

CAAT said the British government approved the weapons sales from October 2018 to March 2019, despite condemning the murder of Khashoggi.

Following Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last October and growing outcry over the Saudi-led coalition's human rights violations in Yemen, the British government last month said it would suspend issuing new Saudi licenses for the sale of arms that might be used in the Gulf kingdom's bombing campaign in Yemen.

The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of anti-weapons campaigners, who argued that the sales should not have been allowed because there was a clear risk the weapons might be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

Britain accounts for 23 percent of arms imports to Saudi Arabia and last year signed a multibillion-pound preliminary order with Riyadh for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. Government figures analyzed by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) show that Britain has approved sales of nearly $6.4 billion in weapons to the kingdom since the Saudi-led campaign began in 2015.

The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been using weapons produced in Europe and the U.S. to kill and wound thousands of civilians in Yemen, according to a report released by a Yemen-based human rights group last month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), previously the Saudi defense minister and Saudi Arabia's allies launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015. The ongoing war has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with an estimated 24 million people, close to 80 percent of the population, in need of assistance and protection in Yemen, according to U.N.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says some 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in 2015, but rights groups state the death toll could be five times as high.

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